Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Peppermint Chocolate Filled Cupcakes

Peppermint Chocolate Filled Cupcakes: An Andes mint in a pretty little wrapper!
I made these 11 days ago for my lovely friend's 30th birthday.
I can't believe I haven't posted about them yet!

To start with I did something that I NEVER do (mostly because I had limited time, and also because it had been a long week and my baking motivation was hovering around a 3 on a scale of 10) I used boxed chocolate cake mix.
Please continue reading, I know, I know, it was a horrible thing to do.

So, of course I had to snazz the cake mix up! I lined and filled 24 cupcake tins.
Put them in to bake per the directions on the box (shudder) but then I added the secret ingredient!
After 5 minutes in the oven I pulled them out and added a Mint Truffle Hershey Kiss to each one.
They immediately started to sink below the surface and it looked amazing!
Please ignore the cake batter splashes on the muffin tray, as I said in an earlier post I don't photoshop, I show it like it is! Dirty pan and all.

Then I topped these delectable goodies with a homemade peppermint buttercream frosting, insanely easy to make:
In a mixer combine:
1 stick of softened butter
3.5 cups of powdered sugar
3 Tbsp milk (preferably whole)
1 tsp peppermint extract
5 drops of yellow food coloring, 1 drop of blue food coloring (optional)

Voila! Peppermint Chocolate Filled Cupcakes!

I totally made a rookie mistake here and forgot to cut on in half and take a picture of the Hershey Kiss floating in the middle. It was glorious!
Next time (and there definitely will be a next time) I'm making these with caramel Kisses dropped in the middle and a dulce de leche frosting. Drool.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My horrible neglect of the blog

12 days without a post, that is just full on out of control!
Thing is, I've been super busy, crafting, baking, prepping for Thanksgiving, turning 30 (freakout) and I guess I just forgot to share it all on here.
So this is my holiday resolution: I'm back to posting every day through Christmas!
Because there is no better time than the holiday season to share fun ideas and craft our little hearts out! it goes!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark...aka Heaven

This is so easy it's wrong.
I vow here and now to only make this when I'm bringing it to someone else's house. Dangerous.

First, the ingredients:
2 sticks of butter
1 cup of light brown sugar
1 bag of pretzels (you'll use about 3/4 of the bag)
12 ounce bag of chocolate chips
Sea salt
Two quick notes on ingredients, I would use the "snaps" pretzels because you'll get a more even covering of the bottom of the pan. Also, if there is a Trader Joes within 20 miles of you drive there and stock up on chocolate chips. $1.99. That's right, $1.99.

Preheat the oven to 400.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, cover with pretzels (you don't have to do the super neat grid I did, it just made me feel all aligned and happy).
In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium-low heat. When it begins to bubble add the brown sugar. Stirring occasionally let the butter/sugar mixture meld together and brown. This should take about 3 minutes. Do NOT let it boil, you will have sticky goo that is no good. And if you can afford to lose two sticks of butter to a failed experiment why are you even reading a DIY blog? (Call me, I'll make the bark, you can pay me and pass it off as your own, win, win.)
When you have a nice, brown caramel pour it over the pretzels, slowly and evenly. You can then use a spatula to spread it out, you have to work quickly and gently. It hardens fast so even pouring is the best method.
Bake the sheet for 5 minutes.
Remove the sheet from the oven and sprinkle the whole bag of chocolate chips evenly over the mixture.
Place back in the oven for about 45 seconds. If you let it sit there too long the chocolate will burn.
Remove from the oven and use a silicone spatula or the back of a spoon to evenly spread the chocolate over the top.
Sprinkle with sea salt and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour.

Break in to pieces and put in a cute little box lined with parchment paper.
Perfect hostess gift.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I hate to talk Christmas already...

BUT, there was a project I had to start early!
First a quick note: I can't believe I've been MIA on this blog for so long, had a lot of stuff going on and wasn't feeling particularly creative, but I'm ready to get crafting again, and I'll be back in full force starting this week. Especially since theoretically I'm making Belle and I our Thanksgiving dresses....

So, here's a quick, super easy, super cheap gift that is great for any family with kids.
If your handwriting is anything short of horrific you can totally do this project!
Make a personalized cookies for Santa plate!

First, buy a plain white ceramic plate. At Christmas Tree Shop they are a whopping $0.69 a piece.
Then, purchase red acrylic paint intended for glass and ceramics, a startling $1.89 at Michaels.
Next, paint your message to Santa, let sit and dry for 21-25 days to assure that when you wash it the paint won't run off.
Mine isn't done yet, just one coat (it will need two), and I think I'm going to draw a little Christmas tree in the middle.

A few tips, be sure to wipe the ceramic with rubbing alcohol before you start to get rid of any finger prints. And if there's anything you don't like, just take a wet paper towel to it immediately and it will wipe away. So no fear on experimentation.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Buffalo Burgers

Buffalo burgers with baked fries
So quick and easy, I absolutely love this dinner, probably because the husbando and I are both huge fans of super spicy, and anything that takes 20 minutes is ok in my book!

Start the fries first, they can bake while you're making the burgers.
Preheat the oven to 425, cut two baking potatoes in to shoe-string fries. Toss with about two tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of kosher salt. Bake on a baking sheet for 12-15 minutes, until the bottoms are brown.

For the burgers, make 4 patties from a pound of ground chicken (you could sub in turkey, but I wouldn't do beef because it will take over the buffalo sauce flavor), cook until done, about 7 minutes each side over medium heat. Remove from the pan, reduce the heat to low. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and 1/4 cup buffalo sauce in the pan. Return the burgers to the pan, turning to coat with the sauce. Then place either Monterey Jack or blue cheese on top of each burger, cover and melt the cheese (about 45 seconds). Serve on rolls with tomato, lettuce and red onion.

Such a delicious meal, so little effort! Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wow proven wrong...times two.

I had two big "Nicole, you're a close minded fool" moments today.

1. Jessica Simpson actually announced her pregnancy in a witty fashion. Surely that is the first time "witty" and "Jessica Simpson" have appeared in the same sentence but I was pleasantly surprised at her Halloween "Mummy" pun.
Do I know that the credit for this probably goes to her publicist? Of course I do. But I'm flabbergasted nonetheless that I thought she did something intentionally humorous.

2. Pumpkin ice cream is freaking delicious.
I know, I know, could anything sound less appealing? Pumpkin mixed with ice cream, I scoffed at my mother for wanting to try it.
I will eat my words.
It is absolutely phenomenal.
Go out and buy it! Immediately!
We had the Trader Joes variety (which is probably the best because, duh, its TJs), and it tastes a more eggnog-ish than pumpkin. It is glorious.

So today I basically spent the day being reminded that sometimes I'm just a moron, and entirely too quick to judge. Though, in my defense Ms. Simpson has been proving herself a dimwit for a while now.